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Championing our cause – The winners of WorldGBC’s Global Awards 2017

Throughout my career as an architect and businessman, I have served on the jury panels of a number of awards recognising excellence in the design, building and construction sectors. It’s never easy to whittle down winners from what is usually a very strong field of shortlisted candidates, whether individuals or major businesses.

The World Green Building Council Chairman’s Awards, however, are a different story altogether. As the current Chairman of WorldGBC – and with the sustainability of buildings so close to my heart – landing on a winner always seems like a much harder task, given the strength, expertise and the number of fine leaders we now have championing green buildings around the world. It’s a process that is given considerable thought and deliberation, and this year received the input and advice of 18 colleagues from WorldGBC and from members of WorldGBC’s Board.

Yet once the nominations for the Chairman’s Award and the WorldGBC David Gottfried Global Green Building Entrepreneurship Award (named after WorldGBC’s founder and which is given out at the same time) were put forward, deciding the winners somehow proved more straightforward – a testament, I believe, to the magnitude of their achievements.

Romilly Madew is the deserved winner of the WorldGBC Chairman’s Award, which recognises individuals’ outstanding role in advancing green buildings around the world and their inspirational leadership. And Romilly is just that – an inspirational leader, who, in her position as CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), has contributed to the rapid green transformation of the global property, design and construction industries for over a decade.

What singled out Romilly as the clear winner was her tireless commitment to the green building movement, both at home in Australia, and beyond, on the global stage. During her role as CEO she has overseen the rise of Green Star certification, which is transforming Australia’s built environment, and ensured GBCA has played a major role in WorldGBC’s projects and activities, such as the current Advancing Net Zero project. And as if steering a hugely successful Green Building Council was not quite enough, she has helped to establish a number of Green Building Councils in the Asia Pacific region such as New Zealand, South African, Hong Kong and Indonesia. She also shared her expertise to WorldGBC’s Board of Director’s as Secretary from 2012 to 2016, offering invaluable advice to our organisation.

Through her role on the board of Chief Executive Women – which represents more than 400 of Australia’s most senior and distinguished women leaders – Romilly serves as a role model to all, championing equality in business and green construction community.

It is a great privilege to be able to call Romilly both a colleague and a friend, and I sincerely congratulate her on her achievements and this award.

When it came to the WorldGBC David Gottfried Award, it became clear that the two individuals should be honoured together – so entwined their work has been in the past.

Professor Dr. Michael Braungart and William McDonough are the winners of this award for their thought leadership which has helped businesses to rethink the way they approach product and design cycles.

Their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, caught the attention of design world back in 2002. It strongly advocated for Cradle to Cradle approaches within businesses to design products which eliminate the concept of waste, use clean energy, and value clean water. I see the book as the blueprint for sustainable design, which has deeply inspired me as an architect. Some 15 years after its publication, it is still as relevant today. And it’s encouraging to see organisations which work closely with WorldGBC, such as Shaw Contract, embracing the principles which Professor Dr. Braungart and Mr McDonough originally presented.

And with this year’s winners coming from Australia, Germany, and the US, and announced in India – where Green Building Councils from 28 countries gathered this week for our Members’ Day – I’m truly proud of how global our green building movement has become.

Tai Lee Siang is Chairman of the World Green Building Council